At a meeting of European agriculture ministers this week to discuss the BSE crisis, Franz Fischler, the European Farm Commissioner, warned that the situation was "worse" than originally thought. Fishler told ministers that"The crisis on the beef market goes further than one might think." He said many countries outside the EU had banned beef from the Union, and a considerable backlog of beef production that should normally have taken place last year, was being carried over into this year. He warned forecasts of a 10 per cent drop in consumption for 2001, could be higher. So far there had been an EU-wide drop in consumption of 27 per cent. He said current measures, including the EU's EUR 875 million "purchase for destruction" scheme, which requires testing or destruction of cattle older than 30 months, could be financed under the 2000-2006 farm budget at least for this year, provided the drop in consumption was no more than 10%. However, he warned a steeper fall would lead to aid cuts in other agriculture sectors.